Global Finance selects the world's 10 best cities to live in based on eight metrics, including pandemic response.
Global Finance's 2022 best cities to live in ranking is derived from a score that reflects eight distinct metrics: economic strength; research and development; cultural interaction; livability; environment; accessibility; Covid-19 deaths per thousand for the country; and annual population growth rate. These factors are all critical for quantifying the quality of life of people living in urban areas. All of the metrics were normalized in order to properly quantify them into a single overall score and provide a measure of comparison.
Where did we get the data?
The first six factors (economic strength, research and development, cultural interaction, livability, environment, and accessibility) come from the Global City Power index. This study provides a myriad of scores that quantify different aspects of city life including cultural, technological, environmental, and economic factors. Their report’s list of cities forms the basis for our decision of what cities to include in our list. The Covid-19 deaths per thousand comes from a combination of Johns Hopkins University and Statista for the remaining cities. The population growth is based on data from Macrotrends.
How has the ranking methodology changed since the 2020 ranking?
The impact of Covid-19 on the world's population in 2022 is not the same as it was in 2020 when the pandemic first began; today, Covid-19 has become endemic in the human species, much like the influenza virus after the 1918 pandemic. To reflect this new reality, the relative weight of Covid-19 in the ranking has been reduced from three to two. GDP per capita has also been removed as a factor in the ranking since it is already incorporated into the economic score. The last change is the inclusion of population growth rate as a factor. As the pandemic caused a population growth decline across the world, it became clear that a growing population is a sign of healthy city life.
TOP 10 BEST CITIES TO LIVE IN 2022
#10 | Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam made a surprising climb from 14th place on the 2020 list to 10th place scoring higher than other European cities such as Vienna, Berlin, and Copenhagen powered by better livability and accessibility scores. Another factor is that Amsterdam has lower cost of living compared to its European competitors and a variety of transportation methods.
#9 | New York City, United States
New York City is the lone American city on this year's ranking due to its strong economy, cultural significance, and research and development. The factors pushing it down from fourth place in 2020 to ninth place in 2021 are the United States' exceedingly high Covid-19 death rate and the city's skyrocketing cost of living, namely rents.
#8 | Beijing, China
Beijing's rise to a top 10 best city to live in is a surprise given that it placed 22nd in 2020. Beijing scores poorly on livability—although that has been changing recently—and its high levels of pollution produce a poor environmental safety score. Nonetheless, Beijing's ranking benefitted from China’s low Covid-19 death rate and the city's population growth of approxmiately 2% in the past year. Beijing may have issues, but the city is still growing and evolving.
#7 | Paris, France
Paris has suffered a lot recently. France’s Covid-19 death rate has been higher than the global average and Paris' population growth is minimal. However, Paris scores well on traditional metrics such as cultural significance and livability.
#6 | Sydney, Australia
Right behind its fellow Australian city Melbourne is Sydney and they share many of the same strengths: Robust environmental safety, a moderately strong economy that is growing well, and the Australian government's lockdowns succeeded limiting Covid-19 deaths per capita.
#5 | Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne maintained its 5th place from the 2020 ranking by being strong on environmentalism. It not only sets strict guidelines in a pursuit of zero carbon emissions but it also has a variety of groups aggressively pursuing judicial paths for tougher environmental standards. Melbourne also experienced significant population growth despite the pandemic.
#4 | Singapore, Republic of Singapore
Singapore exhibits similar strengths to the other Asian cities in this year's top 10. It scored moderately well in economic strength, cultural significance, and environmental safety, and successfully limited Covid-19 deaths per capita.
#3 | Shanghai, China
Using traditional metrics, Shanghai would not have ranked in the top 10 because its scores on economic strength, cultural significance, and environmental safety leave a lot to be desired. What set Shanghai apart is the exceptionally low Covid-19 death figures due to China’s zero-covid policy and its strong population growth.
#2 | Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo gets second place as it scores very high on combatting Covid-19. The city also continually demonstrates a passion for research and development into tech sectors and its immense public transportation system offers a high level of accessibility. Even so, Tokyo has a weakness in one key area: population growth. Tokyo is one of the few cities among the top 10 to suffer population decline in the past year.
#1 | London, United Kingdom
London claims first place with high scores across the board for everything except Covid-19 as the U.K dealt with significant surges in case numbers from the beginning of the pandemic to as recently as January of 2022. Nevertheless, London's strength in culture, accessibility, and surprisingly strong population growth pushed it above and beyond every other city in the world.
Tailoring our methodology to the current phase of the Covid-19 pandemic led to some surprising results in the 2022 edition of Global Finance's best cities ranking (and it is important to note that past performance is no guarantee of future success in combatting Covid-19 deaths given the unpredictability of variants like Omicron emerging). Many European cities that scored highly in traditional metrics—including Berlin (16), Helsinki (17), Stockholm (18), and Zurich (19)—had high Covid-19 death rates as well. These cities also had relatively low population growth, as has been common across much of Europe recently. U.S cities such as Los Angeles (35) and Boston (41) have faced the same circumstances of high Covid-19 deaths per capita and low population growth. These factors led to many cities in the developed Western world to score poorly in this year's rankings.
Population growth combined with low Covid-19 death rates are the key factors for why some Asian cities surged in the rankings compared to where they were in 2020. Hong Kong (11), Dubai (12), Seoul (13), Bangkok (22) exhibited strong population growth and did well in limiting Covid-19 deaths. In China, strict lockdowns in specific cities were so successful in preventing Covid-19 deaths that Beijing and Shanghai catapulted from 21st and 22nd place, respectively, in the 2020 ranking and into the top 10 of this year's ranking.
The extreme divergence of population growth among the world's major cities was another significant factor in this year's ranking. Cities across the United States, Japan, Italy, and Russia have seen their populations stagnate or decline, leading to gloomy forecasts that for future generations they will be less lively, less diverse, and less wealthy places to live. At the other extreme, cities with high population growth rates such as Kuala Lumpur (24), Johannesburg (48), and Cairo (38) were held them back from reaching the top 10 by their poor scores on the other seven metrics.
Best Cities to Live in 2022 Full Ranking
|4||Singapore||Republic of Singapore|
|9||New York||United States|
|35||Los Angeles||United States|
|37||San Francisco||United States|
|43||Washington, D.C.||United States|